- A competitive advantage boosts brand awareness
- Keep thinking of ways to hone your uniqueness
- Protecting your investment in brand and reputation
Your 'competitive advantage' is what you do better than anyone else in your part of the market. It might be something unique, or a combination of factors such as product, price, service or the customer or brand experience - which in combination, set your business apart.
However the point of difference is constructed, few businesses can succeed long term without one. You need compelling reasons for people to choose you over your competitors, especially if your products are similar to others.
A competitive advantage is a critical element in a solid marketing plan.
For further insights, check out our article Why every business needa a marketing strategy.
Identifying your competitive advantage
A good way to start is by brainstorming the differences that distinguish your business in the minds of your customers. The reasons they buy from you could produce some surprises – including advantages that you may not have considered.
Do any of the following apply to you?
- your product or service is clearly superior or better value for money
- it’s unique, or new to the market
- your approach to customer service is superior
- you’ve identified a niche market that others have ignored
- you stock products or offer services that others don’t
- you’ve patented your product, or registered your design so it can’t be copied
- you offer a better guarantee or warranty than the industry standard
- you promote through channels that competitors don’t yet use, such as social media
Think of it like this: if you were a customer of your own business, what would stand out about it to you? Once defined, a clear competitive advantage will boost brand awareness and strengthen your marketing.
Projecting your advantage
Once you’ve identified your competitive advantage, you can start bringing it to life - using it in your marketing and re-engineering your activities to make the most of it. If it really is distinctive and authentic, people will take notice and start forming an opinion of you that’s backed up by the experiences they have with you.
No matter how compelling your advantage, it’s up to you to back up your words with actions. You can’t expect customers to guess your advantage.
Strengthening your marketing
When you develop a recognisable brand that captures your point of difference it may:
- save time and money in developing and executing your marketing
- provide more effective communications through consistent, cohesive and differentiated messages
- build market awareness and greater brand recognition
Remember, actions speak louder than words so follow through on the claims you make to build your reputation.
Protecting your advantage
The more successful your business, the more competitors you’re likely to face. This makes it important to protect what can be protected. After all, it pays to safeguard the effort and expense you've put into building your reputation and your brand.
A few essentials:
- visit the IP Australia website or speak to an IP expert to see what you can protect
- register your brand name or logo as a trade mark so competitors can’t copy it
- assert your rights (such as copyright) on all promotional material to deter imitators
Schedule regular reviews
Customer satisfaction surveys will give you feedback on why your customers continue to choose your business, and what they see as your key points of difference.
Stay in front by evolving new competitive advantages or finding new ways to talk about existing ones.
Make time to ask yourself:
- are your top competitive advantages still working?
- has your business model changed? Can you think of any new competitive advantages?
- do you need to use new or different promotional channels?
- can sales staff communicate your competitive advantage quickly and clearly?
- what new examples of your competitive advantage can you talk about?
As your business evolves so will your competitive advantage. Keep thinking of ways to hone your uniqueness.
Section 4 of ANZ’s Business plan template (PDF 591kB) is dedicated to all things market analysis and strategy.
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